State health officials say a three-week decline in COVID-19 cases is encouraging, but it doesn’t mean Hoosiers can let their guard down.
Case numbers have dropped by one-sixth in the last three weeks, and the statewide positivity rate dipped into moderate-risk range on Monday for the first time in a month. State health commissioner Kristina Box says new guidance to schools, allowing looser quarantine rules if they adopt mask mandates, has played a role in reducing community spread in the broader community.
But Indiana is still averaging more than three-thousand new cases a day. And Box says based on what’s happened in other states, she expects to see a series of waves of new outbreaks, rather than an unbroken decline. She says Hoosiers can’t let their guard down, but need to continue taking precautions.
“The virus is not done with us yet,” Box warns.
The number of Hoosiers hospitalized with COVID has been over two-thousand every day for five straight weeks. And while that number is also declining from a peak two weeks ago of nearly 27-hundred, Box says some hospitals are still near or over capacity, because non-COVID patients, including procedures delayed by the pandemic, quickly fill the gaps. She says teams of Indiana National Guard troops are helping out at some hospitals facing staffing shortages, including Saint Vincent in Indianapolis.
Box says 97-percent of last week’s hospitalizations and intensive-care patients were unvaccinated.
Governor Holcomb’s latest health emergency declaration expires at midnight Thursday night. The governor hasn’t said whether he’ll renew it again. There are no current statewide mask orders or business restrictions. but the emergency declaration enables other response measures like loosened licensing standards for medical students and retired or out-of-state health care workers.